Fight for last NCAA Final Four berth heats upBy Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
TEAMS bunched in the middle of the standings look to boost their Final Four hopes today in the 89th NCAA basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Out to keep a hold of the No. 4 spot, San Sebastian takes on St. Benilde at 4 p.m., before Final Four aspirants Jose Rizal U and Arellano test each other’s mettle at 6.
The game is an opportunity for the Blazers, who are in seventh spot, to gain on the Stags, while also giving JRU, ranked sixth, and No. 5 Emilio Aguinaldo College hope that they could still sneak into the semifinals.
But Stags coach Topex Robinson vowed his squad will come prepared even if they are still expected to miss center Bradwyn Guinto who has been diagnosed with typhoid fever.
Leo de Vera will return from a one-game suspension while Jamil Ortuoste is also expected to suit up for SSC after sitting out the game against Lyceum because of the flu.
The Blazers are coming off their worst performance of the season, losing to San Beda, 46-65, in a game where they failed to hit a field goal in the first 12 minutes.
JRU has lost its last four games, including a 61-64 decision to Perpetual Help last Monday. But coach Vergel Meneses has high hopes for big man Michael Mabulac who tallied season highs of 28 points and 19 rebounds in the loss.
With a 4-9 record, the Chiefs are teetering on the brink of another failed season.
The trio of John Pinto, Prince Caperal and James Forrester will be key cogs for the Chiefs’ bid to make a last ditch push for the Final 4.
In Guinto’s absence, Ranimark Tano has stepped up for the Stags who have won their last three games.